Know Thy Hair: A Guide to Determining Your Hair Texture and Hair Type
Though often used interchangeably, hair texture and hair type refer to two different things. Knowing your hair texture and type helps you understand why your hair looks the way it does and how to take care of it based on its specific needs.
Both are determined by genetic factors, which means that your hair texture and type are very much a part of your identity.
Hair texture means the structure of the individual hair shaft. Hair shafts are typically classified as fine, medium, thick, or coarse. It is not simply about how your hair feels to touch but how dense it is based on its natural formation.
A person’s hair shaft is a complex structure of different components: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla.
The cuticle comprises flat, intersecting cells that form a layer of covering around the hair shaft. It is the outermost part of the hair. The cortex is the fibrous part that carries keratin and lipids and makes up the majority of the hair structure. The medulla is the loosely structured central, innermost layer of the hair.
The morphology or the relationship of these components to each other plays a role in a person’s hair texture.
How to Determine Your Hair Texture
One good way is to compare a strand of your hair to another person’s and check the difference in width and density.
Examining your hair in the mirror can also help you understand your hair texture. If you easily see some of your scalp peeping through your hair, then you have fine hair. Otherwise, it’s thick or at least medium and dense enough to give your scalp good coverage.
The Right Hair Care for Your Hair Texture
Each hair texture comes with pros and cons. The key is embracing your hair texture and enhancing it by giving it the proper care it needs.
Fine hair saves you time and energy when it comes to drying. A few blasts of the blow dryer, and you’ll be good to go. It’s also lightweight, and putting it all up in a bun on top of your head feels floaty and won’t give you a headache. It also works well for short or bob hairstyles because of the easy way it falls. Plus, it’s easier to lather and rinse.
The flipside? Fine hair may be prone to breakage because of its low density. This may lead to premature hair loss. Another challenge is that hair clips don’t hold as there’s not much mass to hold on to. Fine hair also lacks the volume needed to style it with big waves and curls. Finally, using a conditioner can result in an oily appearance.
The remedy? Give it the boost it needs with hair care products specifically formulated to help with thin hair’s structural density and strength.
Best Shampoo for Fine Hair
Medium hair is easier to style and work with compared to fine hair. You can easily shape it to the form you want, whether straight or curly, because it is versatile and flexible enough to follow your lead.
The cons? It takes a bit longer to dry and is not as lightweight as fine hair.
Having thick or coarse hair generally makes you appear more youthful because thin hair is usually associated with aging. And you don’t have to worry about losing your hair when you age. Thick hair can also help keep your head warm if you live in cold temperatures. Whether it’s ponytails, beach curls, or french braids, any hairstyle will look great if you have thick hair.
The challenges, though, include being prone to stubborn frizz. It also takes longer to dry and style. And it naturally consumes more shampoo, hair dye, or leave-on products, which means more cost. And unlike with thin hair, a hair bun could give you some serious weight on your head.
Thick hair may also be harder to rinse off, leaving residues that can cause dandruff, scalp irritation, and dryness. Make sure to use a shampoo and conditioner that address these common thick hair concerns so you can enjoy voluminous gorgeousness with none of the problems.
Now let’s talk about hair type.
Best Shampoo for Thick Hair
The Right Hair Care for Your Hair Type
If hair texture is about the individual shaft’s structural relationship, hair type is simply about the hair's curl pattern. It refers to the form of the hair as a whole or how it looks altogether on the head.
Hair type can be categorized as straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.
Here’s a quick look at each type, including their differences and ideal care.
Contrary to popular belief, straight hair isn’t necessarily pin-straight type hair or the kind that looks pressed down flat to perfection. It also includes straight hair with a slight wave. Straight hair can be fine, medium, or coarse, depending on the hair’s morphology.
This hair type generally does not need moisturizer. Straight hair is also generally low maintenance—simply wash and dry.
Even when split ends or dryness is noticeable, conditioning or moisturizing isn’t recommended as heavy, oil-based hair products can easily weigh down this type of hair. If you prefer your straight hair to get a little bounce or a subtle wave, you can blow dry it from the roots down to the tips per section using a round brush while your hair is still a little damp.
This type ranges from beach waves to loose curls. Whether naturally wavy or styled, loose curls are popular among women with a laid-back, free, and easy sense of style and lifestyle. Yes, the perfect balance of glam with a no-fuss routine makes wavy hair look effortlessly chic when done and carried right.
This hair type also makes it easier to switch back and forth from straight to wavy and wavy to curly with just a bit of hairstyling. Just don’t overdo it because wavy hair may also result in breakage and damage with too much styling. To prevent this, you may use hair products that have restructuring properties to reinforce the strength and form of the hair’s components, especially the cuticle.
This hair type is characterized by ringlets that range from loose to tight. Big bouncy curls have become the iconic look of some celebrities because of their striking look and vibe. Think Julia Roberts in the ’90s or Keri Russell in Felicity.
Natural curls have a diva-ish kind of glamour and are naturally coveted. However, natural curls and thick hair texture can require tremendous maintenance efforts. Exposure to harsh hair products, frequent styling, and the sun’s UV could amplify the dryness because of its volume. It could also be prone to tugging and breakage.
Still, you don’t have to give up on this beauty. You can get help from a reliable hair care routine for curly hair to help you tame the tangle and unleash the dazzle.
Best Routine for Curly and Kinky Hair
You have this hair type if your ringlets are tight and coily. It is common with individuals of African ethnicity. When maintained well, kinky hair has a unique pattern, charm, and appeal.
Combing it from the bottom part first and then slowly moving up helps ease the frizz and tangles. Using a wide-tooth comb is recommended to avoid tugging the hair. Because kinky hair has intense curls, it also requires intense, regular conditioning and treatment.
Compared to other hair types, kinky hair requires more frequent trimming and hydrating to prevent dryness and help it look healthy with defined curls. There are several ways to style it. You can do a top knot, a braid, a neat ponytail, or vintage rolls. You may also simply let it fall and rock the look.
The Mane Point
Now that you know more about hair textures and types, it’s time to fine-tune your hair care routine. Identify what texture and type of hair you have, what it needs, and how best to style it to highlight its aesthetic features.
Don't forget to check your hair for any signs of damage and address it so you can give your hair the care it deserves.
It’s time to nurture your tress and look your best!